With the wealthy, Big Oil, and other corporations asked to contribute nothing in the first round of the austerity plan President Obama signed today to avoid a catastrophic default on our nation’s obligations, there is little for progressives to celebrate.
At the same time, the deal sets up a new “super committee” to identify an additional $1.2-1.5 TRILLION in deficit reduction — reductions which can come from more austerity cuts (including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) or more revenues. This presents progressives with an opportunity to channel their anger over the first round into relentless action to push for the kind of progressive second round of deficit reduction that America wants — and needs. Only a progressive plan will help fund the kinds of investments we need to make to start putting America back to work.
AMERICANS AGREE: Survey after survey shows that Americans want a progressive plan:
- 60 percent disapprove of the fact that revenues from the wealthy and corporations were not included in the first round of the deal
- 66 percent wanted a deal that included both new revenues and spending cuts
- 72 percent support raising taxes on those making over $250,000
- 64 percent support raising taxes on hedge fund managers
- 59 percent support ending tax breaks for Big Oil
NOTABLE QUOTABLE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking just before the Senate voted today to pass the debt deal, said Republican members of the Super Committee must have “open minds” about including revenue in the second round. Reid said the only the way an agreement to stop the automatic cuts in the second round from going into effect can be reached is by including revenue in the Super Committee’s deal:
We’ve had too much talk the last few days of Republicans as early as this morning, Republican leaders in the Senate saying there will be no revenue. That’s not going to happen. Otherwise, the trigger is going to kick in. The only way we can arrive at a fair arrangement for the American people with this joint committee is to have equal sharing…There has to be equal spending cuts, there has to be some revenue that matches that
IN ONE SENTENCE: Washington ignored the American people’s overwhelming desire for a balanced plan in round one of the debt deal; now it’s time for progressives to fight for a plan that creates jobs and doesn’t allow most Americans to bear the burden, while those with lobbyist get to write the rules.
On Thursday, September 30th, Gen44 hosted a concert with President Obama, Governor Tim Kaine, David Plouffe featuring an electrifying performance by B.o.B. The Gen44 Concert kicked off the first ever Gen44 National Summit, a three day gathering of under-40 leaders from across the country.
Jann Wenner reports in Rolling Stone today that after his recent interview with President Obama was over, Obama returned briefly to the Oval Office and tacked on a coda, speaking “with intensity and passion, repeatedly stabbing the air with his finger”:
It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we’ve got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.
….If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election. And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money’s coming from. In every single one of these congressional districts, you are seeing these independent organizations outspend political parties and the candidates by, as I said, factors of four to one, five to one, eight to one, 10 to one.
We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that’s what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we’ve got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.
If you’re serious, now’s exactly the time that people have to step up.
Well, that’s not going to be popular with Obama’s lefty critics, though obviously you’d expect a mushy sellout like me to agree with him. And I do! But I’d also make a distinction. If you’re, say, Glenn Greenwald, I wouldn’t expect you to buy Obama’s defense at all. All of us have multiple interests, but if your primary concern is with civil liberties and the national security state, then the problem isn’t that Obama hasn’t done enough, it’s that his policies have been actively damaging. There’s just no reason why you should be especially excited about either his administration or the continuation of the Democratic Party in power.
On the other hand, if your critique is the broader and more common one — that Obama has moved in the right direction but has been too quick to compromise and hasn’t accomplished enough — then I think you should take his defense of his record way, way more seriously. It’s all too easy, like Velma Hart, to convince yourself that he could have waved a magic wand and gotten a bigger stimulus and a better healthcare bill and stronger financial regulation and a historic climate bill. But honestly, you have to buy into some pretty implausible political realities to believe that (Olympia Snowe would have voted for a trillion-dollar stimulus, there were Republican votes for a climate bill if only it had been a bigger priority, healthcare reform could have been passed via reconciliation, Harry Reid could have unilaterally ended the filibuster, etc.). The votes just weren’t there and the president’s leverage over centrist Dems and recalcitrant Republicans just wasn’t very strong. Maybe he could have done better, but the evidence says that, at best, he could have done only a smidge better.
And the alternative? Well, if the prospect of ripping apart healthcare reform, shutting down the government, deep sixing START, slashing social spending, and reliving the glory days of investigations over Christmas card lists isn’t enough to get you motivated, I guess I’m not sure what is. I wish I got more warm and fuzzies from Obama too, and I wish, like Mike Tomasky, that his ”fetish of not kowtowing to public opinion” were a little less ostentatious. But letting Darrell Issa take over the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform doesn’t seem like a very good way of getting that message across.
OK then. I think I’ll go donate a hundred bucks to someone. Who do you think it should be?
CALLER: I’m 90 years old and I just wanted to ask the colored man, why don’t colored people instead of saying what we did to them, why don’t they say what we did for them? They talk about the slavery but since then they have been given welfare, free medicine, free everything.
HARLESTON: Ma’am I think this is more of a conversation about the relationship between the administration and the people on Wall Street and not necessarily one that’s based on race.
CALLER: Oh, okay. I’m not a racist. That was my com
“Introducing White House Whiteboard. In this first edition, Austan Goolsbee, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers here at the White House, tackles the tax cut fight and what it means that Congressional Republicans are “holding middle class tax cuts hostage” as the President has said.”
Email your Senators today!
Ask them to vote “YES” on the New START treaty.
Yesterday one of the most important votes of the 111th Congress was held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – a strongly bipartisan, 14 – 4 vote that cleared the way for the full Senate to ratify the New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia. The START treaty is an important step toward our overall goal of a nuclear-free future.
Now we need your help for the final push to ensure this modest but strategically critical treaty gets a vote before this Congress adjourns.
A BIG THANK YOU to AFSC supporters in Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi who asked their Senators to do the right thing and vote yes on the New START Treaty resolution of ratification. With your help, Senators Bob Corker (TN) and Johnny Isakson (GA) joined their fellow Republican Richard Lugar (IN) and all the committee’s Democrats to create a clear bipartisan majority for the treaty. Well done!
The strength of this committee vote increases the likelihood that the measure can garner the 67 votes necessary to approve the treaty— if the full Senate has an opportunity to vote on the measure. With some seeking to block this resolution from an up or down vote and elections fast approaching, the Senate could run out of time to advance this important agreement.
We need to ask for your help again. Urge your senators to publicly call for a vote before Congress adjourns in October, and to vote “yes” on the New START Treaty.
Many of us wish this treaty went further. When fully implemented, the U.S. and Russia will still have more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
But the treaty will make us safer by
- reducing the number of deployed nuclear weapons
- allowing U.S. inspectors to monitor Russian nuclear weapons, and
- clearing the way for additional steps away from nuclear proliferation – steps
that may be politically unviable for many years if this vote fails.
Please contact your Senators today and ask them to call publicly for a vote on the New START treaty.
Thank you for writing our government to take this important step for everyone’s safety.
Forward this message to your friends.
Help support AFSC’s worldwide work for peace, justice and human dignity. Make a donation today.
Bipartisanship has been in short supply in America these days, to put it mildly. Over the past year, health care reform, financial regulatory reform, and energy legislation have all met fierce resistance on Capitol Hill, where the mood has too often been one of distrust, reflexive opposition, and frustration. Fortunately, this spring the Senate was handed an opportunity to demonstrate its ability to work together on at least one issue of critical importance — arms control — in the form of New START, the United States‘ latest nuclear reductions treaty with Russia. And in an important first step Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demonstrated that bipartisanship is not dead yet.
Traditionally, such treaties have garnered overwhelming Senate support, even in uncertain and polarized times. On Thursday the committee, by a bipartisan vote of 14 to 4, approved a resolution of ratification providing our advice and consent to New START. Three of those 14 votes came from Republicans.
The question now is whether we can seize this moment and push ahead with finalizing a treaty that reaffirms American leadership on nuclear issues — or whether the ideological obstructionism and political rancor that has plagued so many other issues surfaces in connection with one of our most pressing national security challenges.
New START, which U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed in April, limits the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads apiece. It also places caps on missiles and bombers, as well as launchers like missile silos. Under the existing Moscow Treaty, negotiated by George W. Bush, each country is permitted to deploy between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads, so some see this new treaty’s reductions as modest. And it is true: This is no disarmament pact. But when you’re talking about nuclear weapons, even modest agreements can be significant.
New START continues 40 years of nuclear diplomacy, which was first aimed at ending the arms race — and then at reversing it. By eliminating redundant weapons, the agreement continues the cuts that Ronald Reagan initiated when he signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 and began negotiations on the original START Treaty. Even if America’s relationship with Russia is now strong enough that neither side fears an attack from the other, it still makes sense for the nuclear superpowers — our two countries possess some 90 percent of the world’s atomic weaponry — to establish clear limits on their arsenals. The predictability that stems from having such limits, along with the transparency provided by the monitoring and verification provisions contained in New START, produces stability that will make any future crisis less dangerous.
Of course, because it reinforces U.S.-Russian relations, the treaty makes it less likely that any crisis will arise in the first place. Those improved ties will have other benefits as well. Already, in the past five months Russia has begun allowing our forces to transit its territory on their way to Afghanistan, it has suspended a deal to sell Tehran advanced anti-aircraft missiles, and it has supported a U.N. resolution further sanctioning Iran for its nuclear activities. Friendlier relations will also facilitate vital initiatives, like the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which are designed to keep weapons and fissile material out of the hands of terrorists — our top national security priority.